|Not bragging, recapping.|
|Action shot with mango blender drink.|
Trollope is an interesting writer; he's very "present" in the book and explicitly implies (I know that sounds contradictory but you know what Victorians are like) that he is relating events that he's witnessed. He's also prone to big, florid digressions, including long passages about the power of the press, which are interesting historically but less so when sitting by a pool. There are many excellent little turns of phrase, e.g.:
Here was a nice man to be initiated into the comfortable arcana of ecclesiastical snuggeries; one who doubted the integrity of parsons, and probably disbelieved the Trinity!Oh man, comfortable arcana of ecclesiastical snuggeries. Fantastic.
The choice of topic for the book is really interesting, at least on a meta level. The plot revolves around the conflict between the Anglican clergy and a reformer who accuses them of financial impropriety in their handling of a charity. There are various personal and even romantic relationships that shape this conflict but really, that's about it: it's a book about a reform campaign and its consequences. And it's very much a book about the Church of England and her clergy. Granted, most of my experience with Victorian novels is actually with women authors, but this seems like a strange sort of thing to still be good 156 years later.
But it is really good, partly because the conflict allows Trollope to develop the different characters and show how a political and ideological question can impact personal feelings and relationships. And while the novel's conflict itself is, of course, deeply rooted in 19th century British politics, it's not hard to feel a certain affinity with the situation. Take this passage for instance:
Fair warning, though: Trollope is not very sympathetic to the cause of reform -- or maybe I should say, populist methods. The reformers in this book are idle and self-serving, and their pursuit of a public outcry causes more harm than, clearly, Trollope thinks is justified. Then again, the establishment isn't quite the side of angels, so the whole thing is nuanced enough not to feel flat.
In former times great objects were attained by great work. When evils were to be reformed, reformers set about their heavy task with grave decorum and a laborious argument. An age was occupied in proving a grievance, and philosophical researches were printed in folio pages, which it took a lifetime to write, and an eternity to read. We get on now with a lighter step, and quicker: ridicule is found to be more convincing than argument, imaginary agonies touch more than true sorrows, and monthly novels convince, when learned quartos fail to do so. If the world is to be set right, the work will be done by shilling numbers.
There's also a great chapter in which the main character spends a day in London, considering his problem and trying to avoid someone. The descriptions of where he goes and what he does are great for a historical view of the city.
I know; if you took all of my recommendations you'd never read anything else (and the "Help! I have not read The Help!" read-along is coming up in November so we've got to clear the decks) -- but The Warden has a couple of points in its favor. It's only 203 pages long (in my edition) and, having been published in 1855, it's in the public domain and available as a free ebook.